Masvingo — THE delayed 2012 Annual Chiefs' Conference began here yesterday.
The conference running under the theme "Promoting Cultural Values and Practices for Sustainable
Socio-economic Development" will be officially opened today by President Mugabe, who will also launch the Masvingo Community Share Ownership Schemes.
This is the first time President Mugabe is launching the scheme before all traditional leaders.
The chiefs yesterday discussed a number of issues that include the draft constitution, marriage laws, the roles of traditional leaders and succession disputes.
Academics including UZ lecturer Dr Vimbai Chivaura, Professor Phathisa Nyathi, Dr Zivage from Great Zimbabwe University, Reverend Paul Damasane and Masholand East Governor and Resident Minister Aneas Chigwedere addressed the chiefs.
Former Masvingo governor Cde Josiah Hungwe said traditional leaders should take a leading role in the forthcoming referendum and general elections.
His counterpart former Midlands governor Cde Cephas Msipa said chiefs are community mobilisers. He said they are held in high esteem by the communities as they are seen as the Government closest to the people.
"As leaders you come from the people. The people surrender their power to you so that you can lead them. You should always know that you got your power from the people," he said.
He said traditional leaders should be able to dictate the do's and don'ts in their areas.
He said politicians should submit themselves before traditional leaders. Dr Chivaura said the draft constitution takes away the power of traditional leaders.
He also questioned why the draft gives whites citizenship.
He said their ancestors were responsible for the murder of Zimbabwe's ancestors.
"When we come here we should be able to tell you the truth," he said.
Dr Chivaura said social vices like domestic violence can only end when the country observes traditional systems and not through the constitution.
Governor Chigwedere said the installation of modern chieftainships has departed from the pre-1890 model which gave power to traditional leaders.
He said failure to recognise the traditional systems in the installation of traditional leaders was because of ignorance of "our culture".
Chiefs' Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira said the draft constitution addresses a number of critical issues.
"This is a victory. A big victory. We are recognised as part of the judiciary. We are in the same group with the chief justice and the other judges," he said.
He said chiefs fought hard to achieve the feat.
Chief Charumbira said the draft constitution uplifts the role of traditional leadership more than any other African countries.
"We are one of only three countries in Africa with chiefs in the House of Assembly," he said.
Chiefs' wives who are also attending the conference yesterday took time out to visit Capota School for the Blind where they delivered some goodies.
Ministers, provincial governors and senior Government officials are attending the conference.